Kenny Guiton proved last season that he could be a closer and an effective fill-in quarterback. Against San Diego State, Guiton showed he could go the distance. With Braxton Miller injured on the Buckeyes' first series, the senior led them to a 42-7 victory with the aplomb befitting a guy who earned captain status despite being a backup.
Kenny Guiton proved last season that he could be a closer and an effective fill-in quarterback.
Against San Diego State, Guiton showed he could go the distance.
With Braxton Miller injured on the Buckeyes' first series, the senior led them to a 42-7 victory with the aplomb befitting a guy who earned captain status despite being a backup.
"I actually wasn't that nervous," Guiton said. "I prepared all week like a starter. I tried to make sure the whole offense and the whole team sees that I'm comfortable."
Guiton finished as the game's leading rusher with 83 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown run. He was efficient and poised in the passing game, completing 19 of 28 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns.
"The old right-hander steps in again and does a nice job," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.
Joking about Guiton's supposed weaknesses, Meyer said, "He's too slow, not a strong enough arm. But all he does is lead, manage and distribute, and he has an incredible knowledge of the game."
Guiton earned folk-hero status last year by leading Ohio State to an improbable overtime victory over Purdue. He finished other drives for touchdowns after Miller was injured. But against the Aztecs, Guiton played almost the entire game.
Miller was injured converting on fourth-and-1 on the seventh play of Ohio State's first drive. He was hit simultaneously by middle linebacker Jake Fely and cornerback King Holder, and Miller's helmet popped off. But Miller suffered a sprained left knee, not a head injury.
He was carted to the locker room, and it was announced that Miller would be fitted for a brace and might return.
"We had a long discussion on the sideline," Meyer said. "I think he could have (played). But the thing that makes him dangerous is his wheels. And I don't think it would have been (wise), so we decided it was best not to. I think there's a chance he'll be ready next week."
Buckeyes players seemed more optimistic that Miller would be OK for next week's game at California. Miller was not made available to the media.
Guiton's play - and that of a reinforced defense - made Miller unnecessary against San Diego State. The Aztecs won nine games in 2012 but were stunned by Eastern Illinois 40-19 at home last week.
As it did last week against Buffalo, Ohio State put down the hammer early, even without Miller. Guiton entered with the ball at the Aztecs' 7-yard line with all the assurance of a guy who knows he's up to the challenge.
"Kenny is one of our leaders and one of our captains," receiver Corey Brown said. "Everyone respects him. Everybody knows what he brings when he's in the game - a lot of confidence, a lot of swagger.
Guiton's words in the huddle?
"Let's go," Brown said. "I can't really say the words verbatim, but something like, 'Let's go.'"
And the Buckeyes didn't stop, at least until the game was long decided. On his first play, Guiton pitched to freshman Dontre Wilson, who easily beat the Aztecs' defense to the end zone for his first career touchdown.
After a punt on their next possession, the Buckeyes got touchdowns on four of their next five. Guiton threw a beautiful 27-yard touchdown pass to Brown to make it 14-0. After a 4-yard scoring run by Jordan Hall, Guiton ran untouched 44 yards for a score from an unconventional diamond formation the Buckeyes have unveiled this season.
The Buckeyes made it 35-0 before halftime on a 1-yard run by Rod Smith that was set up by a forced fumble and recovery by defensive tackle Michael Bennett.
Guiton was the headliner, but the defense was stout all day. Bolstered by the return of cornerback Bradley Roby and safety C.J. Barnett, Ohio State didn't let the Aztecs up for air, even after losing defensive end Adolphus Washington early because of a groin injury. San Diego State didn't get a first down for 18 minutes.
By then, the Aztecs had yanked starting quarterback Adam Dingwell after he misfired on his first five passes, including an interception under duress from linebacker Curtis Grant that was caught by Doran Grant.
"Our defense played outstanding," Meyer said.
The second half was a formality. Brown made a twisting, leaping catch of a Guiton pass for a 24-yard touchdown before the Aztecs scored late in the third quarter to avert a shutout.
"I never expected what happened today," Meyer said.
He was referring to being able to steamroll San Diego State.
He wasn't referring to his backup quarterback's ability to lead the Buckeyes to victory. That he knew.